Demand Generation
The Basics of Drip Marketing And Why You Need to Set Up Lead Nurturing Today

The Basics of Drip Marketing And Why You Need to Set Up Lead Nurturing Today

August 31, 2021
7 min read

What is drip marketing? How does it work? What benefits does it offer? We’ll answer these questions and more in our beginner’s guide to drip marketing.

You might think that email drip marketing is kind of old-school. After all, they’ve been around practically as long as email itself.

How well does email drip marketing work? Really well, it turns out.

Drip marketing’s heady blend of old-fashioned sales letters (think Claude Hopkins) and high-tech personalization can convert like nothing else.

Email itself has proven to be a consistent conversion driver. Over the last five years, its conversion rate has varied only about three percentage points.

Image courtesy of Barilliance

Drip campaigns shift those positive results even more in your favor.

Email drip marketing, therefore, is an essential component of your content marketing strategy.

Drip marketing is a form of email marketing in which you send several emails to people in target customer segments at precisely timed intervals.

A drip marketing campaign’s endpoint can either be a sale, a request for a consultation, or another goal you want to reach.

Drip campaign recipients are those people who have already expressed enough interest in your brand to have signed up to become email subscribers. That fact helps drive its effectiveness.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Define the customer segment you intend to reach.
  • Research that segment’s needs, pain points, and other characteristics.
  • Create effective content that informs, builds trust, and engages your recipients.

What Is Drip Marketing and Why Does It Matter?

Drip marketing — sometimes called drip campaigns, automated email campaigns, marketing automation, lifecycle emails, autoresponders and more — is the use of automated sets of emails that are sent on schedule following an event or trigger. Triggers include users purchasing a product, engaging with a blog post, signing up for your service or abandoning their shopping cart.

Drip campaigns are highly effective as they allow you to send the right message at the right time, enabling your brand to stay connected with specific audience segments in a meaningful way. The emails that constitute drip email campaigns are pre-written and issued automatically, meaning there’s no manual input.

It’s All About Timing

Drip marketing owes its success to its timeliness — it’s all about giving your audience information that’s relevant and valuable when they need it. Here are a couple of examples to get you thinking:

  • Someone subscribes to your email newsletter. They are sent a welcome email instantly, and a follow-up email two days later showcasing your blog’s most-read content.
  • Someone puts an item in their shopping cart but doesn’t check out. A few hours later, they are sent an email reminding them of the item they added to cart. A few days later, they are sent an email with a 10 percent coupon code.
  • Someone signed up for your service’s seven-day free trial. After six days, they are sent an email prompting them to purchase the full version of your service. If they didn’t purchase, they are sent a follow-up reminder a few days later.

Benefits of Drip Marketing

“Drip marketing assists marketers in moving prospects through the sales funnel more quickly, provides sales teams with ‘warm’ leads and rewards people with exclusive offers and incentives.” — Forbes

Personalization is critical to successful marketing in the modern business world. According to research by AdAge, one-third of marketers believe personalization will be the most important capability of future marketing. Drip marketing allows businesses to deliver relevant information direct to their target’s inbox, creating a personalized experience that is likely to result in higher engagement and conversion rates.

Even better, drip marketing assets can be reused, and everything is issued automatically. You can create campaigns to educate and nurture, reward loyal customers and ultimately encourage more sales. Further to this, drip campaigns can help you accurately segment your email list, giving teams access to warm leads that are on the cusp of making a purchase.

Do keep in mind that too many drip emails will annoy your audience — there is something like too much of a good thing. Like any marketing campaign, strategy is crucial. You’ll need to carefully craft your messaging and get your timing just right. A bit of experimentation and A/B testing is also a good idea.

Drip Campaign Use Cases

The goal of any drip campaign is to keep users engaged with your product and to ensure your brand stays front of mind. But what does drip marketing look like in practice?

Here’s a quick look at three effective use cases.

1. Welcoming

You’ve attracted a user to your website, and you’ve encouraged them to sign up to your newsletter, subscribe to your service or take some other kind of action. How are they going to learn more about your offerings? And more importantly, how are you going to keep them engaged with your brand?

That’s where a welcoming drip email marketing campaign comes into play. At the very least, welcome emails say, “Hi, nice to meet you!” Beyond that, they can be used to provide more information, direct a subscriber to popular content or encourage social sharing.

welcome email drip

2. Drip Emails That Educate

The copy in drip marketing needs to be sharp yet sincere. it needs to provide value. And, the recipient should feel as if you really want to improve their day and solve their biggest challenges.

That’s why my ultimate favorite types of drip emails are those that teach recipients. These emails can be anything from a series of how-to videos with written instructions or inside information that helps them solve a challenging problem.

The point is to provide recipients with value over and above the effort it takes to open and read all the emails in a series.

The non-profit watchdog group, The Project on Government Oversight (POGO), needed to grow awareness, as well as its subscriber list. Since one of its main goals is to expose abuses of power, they decided to create a course about what to do if subscribers need to blow the whistle on an employer or a government agency.

Digging down into their target audience’s needs, they discovered one of their recipients’ pain points. Not surprisingly, given the organization’s mission, there was a segment of their audience who had to deal with abuse of power.

With that audience segment, the campaign would likely be a success. Here’s the takeaway: It pays to research your subscribers. It might take extra time, but it’s well worth investing in.

Educational email drip campaigns are excellent choices for B2B and non-profit organizations. With their interest in a long-term relationship with whom they do business, it’s always a good bet to provide valuable information to potential and current clients.

3. Holiday Email Drip Marketing Campaigns

“Everybody does these,” you say. “Aren’t everyone’s inboxes crowded with them around the holidays?”

Yes, they are. But if you have the right headline, the right copy, and the right angle, they can be real moneymakers.

They don’t have to be about holiday gifts, although they can be. Since the new year is just around the corner, both people and businesses analyze the past and plan for the future.

Trello, a project management and productivity software platform, chose the latter. With its “Twelve Days of Trello” campaign playing on the holiday favorite, it sent a set of 12 short emails to its subscribers.

With twelve actionable tips that helped recipients plan both their personal holiday activities and their business’s productivity, the drip emails were a success. The subtle message: Trello is a two-for-one tool that can help its users with both work and life.

It’s no wonder that it was so successful.

4. Cart Abandonment Email Campaigns

A user has added a product to their cart, but chances are, they won’t check out. About 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned. An automated drip campaign can help re-engage wavering customers and coax them back to the buy now button. Follow-up reminders and special offers are excellent ways to improve your chances of a sale.

With today’s e-commerce technology, it’s easy to find those people who have abandoned their cart. Whether something distracted them, or they resisted the temptation to buy, they didn’t buy something they really wanted.

With Eat-n-Park’s trademark Smiley Cookies, it was likely the latter. If you’ve ever been to one of their Western Pennsylvania eateries, you’ve probably fallen in love with their frosted sugar cookie.

The cookies are now available online. Darn. And to make matters worse for cookie lovers watching their weight, when they abandon their impulse purchases, the company sends them near-irresistible emails.

The minute someone abandons their cartful of cookies,, Eat-n-Park’s e-commerce site, sends them an email. As recipients check their email during a lunch break or while watching TV, they see the email. In full color, of course.

Then, if they don’t bite (pun intended), they receive another email in 23 hours. With a discount, no less. Who could resist?

But some budget-minded folks probably do. Four days later, they receive a final email with a larger discount. At that price, they’re probably dead gone. I know I would be.

5. Drip Campaigns for Cold Leads

Leads are people that are aware of your product and may make a purchase in the future. To get to that point, they need a bit of handholding, of nurturing. Nurturing can take many forms: educating users about your service, explaining how certain features work, offering free trials and so on. Nurturing campaigns can be used alongside other drip marketing tactics, such as welcoming and onboarding emails.

A go-to email marketing tool for B2B companies and high-end B2C companies, cold lead drip campaigns are amazingly effective. InsightSquared, a revenue intelligence software company, used an innovative approach to recapture cold leads.

They created an email list segment of only cold leads. The first message asked if the contact person was available for lunch on a specific day. Those people who didn’t reply received a second message, “Are we still on for tomorrow?” the day before the suggested lunch date.

If the prospect didn’t respond to the second one, they received a final email, one that offered to reschedule if they were still interested. This type of email works best if your marketing team works hand-in-hand with your sales team.

When both teams share information, you can add more personalized messaging to the “lunch date” email. With added insights, such as mentioning feedback the prospect had during their last conversation, the campaign can become even more effective.

6. Drip Campaigns That Win Back Customers

Have you ever made a resolution (New Year’s or otherwise) to stop binge-watching the latest trendy series and start enjoying the great outdoors? Most of us probably have.

I’ll bet good money you’re now probably back in Netflix’s good graces again, thanks to their drip email campaigns that are simply irresistible.

They start the moment you cancel. Not only do they confirm your cancellation, but they also insert a clever little call to action, inviting you to restart their service.

They’d “obviously, love to have you back.” And you’re definitely considering it, with their trademark red-and-white CTA button beckoning you like a siren. After all, you just read about a new must-watch series.

But, if you didn’t take the bait, no worries. Eventually, Netflix bets, you will.

Here’s why. Over three months, the platform tantalizes you with all their newly added films and TV series, along with your past favorites. A “Play” button is all the CTA most people need to turn back into a couch potato.

The campaign ends with a final email inviting you to restart your membership. Or perhaps not. If you hold out long enough, Netflix offers you another one-month free trial.

And that’s how they got me back.

With inviting subject lines, compelling content, and the right timing, you can have similar success with your drip marketing campaigns. If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service.

Email is Here to Stay

In the age of social media and other sophisticated marketing strategies, email is still one of the most effective tools. Drip campaigns allow you to leverage the power of email and provide a personalized experience for your audience.

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.

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